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Community Field Guide

Scientific Name:
Pascopyrum smithii Herbaceous Vegetation

Common Name:
Western wheatgrass Mixedgrass Prairie

Community Description

Summary:
This midgrass prairie type is found in the northern and western Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and western basins of the United States and possibly Canada. Stands occur on level to gently sloping terrain. They are sometimes found on alluvial fans. The soils are clay, clay loam, and silt loam. The dominant mixed grass species grow to approximately 1 m tall. Pascopyrum smithii may have as much as 50% coverage. Other grasses that co-occur and may achieve local dominance are Koeleria macrantha and Poa spp. Many other species common in midgrass prairies are also found in this community. These include Artemisia ludoviciana, Bouteloua gracilis, Nassella viridula, and Hesperostipa comata (=Stipa comata). This community is similar to several others that have significant amounts of Pascopyrum smithii. Further work is needed to better define the diagnostic characteristics of this community.

Environment:
This community occurs on flat to gently sloping topography. Soils are clay, clay loam, and silt loam. It is sometimes found on alluvial fans of small streams. The soils are deep (40-100 cm) and well developed.

Vegetation:
This is a midgrass community. Shrubs are rare. The dominant species grow to approximately 1 m tall. Pascopyrum smithii is the only constant dominant species and may have 50% cover. Other species such as Koeleria macrantha and Poa spp. may be locally abundant. Many other species common in midgrass prairies are also found in this community. These include Artemisia ludoviciana, Bouteloua gracilis, Nassella viridula, and Hesperostipa comata.

Range:
This midgrass prairie type is found in the northern and western Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and western basins of the United States and possibly Canada, ranging from North Dakota and possibly Saskatchewan, south to Nebraska and Colorado, west to Utah, and north to Idaho.

Global Rank: G3G5Q State Rank: S4

Community References

Identifier:
CEGL001577

Author:
Drake, J. F., WCS

Citations:
Aldous and Shantz 1924, Baker 1983c, Baker 1984a, Baker and Kennedy 1985, Bourgeron and Engelking 1994, Bunin 1985, Christensen and Welsh 1963, Driscoll et al. 1984, Godfread 1994, Hall and Hansen 1997, Hansen et al. 1991, Hansen et al. 1995, Jones and Walford 1995, Marr and Buckner 1974, Ramaley 1916b, Ramaley 1919b, Ramaley 1942, Shanks 1977, Soil Conservation Service 1978, Steinauer and Rolfsmeier 2000, Thilenius et al. 1995, Von Loh 2000

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This information is from the:
Montana Natural Heritage Program
Montana State Library--Natural Resource Information System
1515 East Sixth Ave., Helena, MT 59620-1800
406 444-5354
http://mtnhp.org
mtnhp@mt.gov